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    Looking for a Fresh, New Design for PD? Try a Residency, Part 2

    By Patty McGee
     | Mar 23, 2017

    2017_03_23-TeachingTip_W220Although most people associate a residency with learning in the medical field, I shared the value of a literacy residency in last week’s post. Here is my day-by-day plan of a four-day residency.

    Day 1: The literacy leader teaches and the participants observe

    Pre-residency meet-up

    • The literacy leader should explain her role and the purpose of the residency, using some of the information from Part 1. She should also share the plan for the week and each participant’s role in this experience.
    • Participants choose an intention for the residency as a study focus, such as integration, feedback, transfer, or independence, and share with the group.

    During the residency

    • The literacy leader teaches the entire residency block, keeping in mind the participants’ learning goals and adding comments to explain what she is teaching, why, and how.

    Debriefing the residency

    • Participants should gather and discuss the residency based on the focuses that they chose.
    • The literacy leader should prepare for the second day of the residency during which participants will take over part of the teaching.

    Day 2: The literacy leader teaches whole-group structures and the participants teach in small-group structures

    Pre-residency meet-up

    • The literacy leader shares the planned whole-group instruction and asks participants to revisit their intention of study for the residency.
    • Participants, in pairs, decide who will take on which part of the small-group teaching. For instance, one participant may take on the “research” and “teach” part of the conference while another will take on the “coaching” and “link” of the conference.

    During the residency

    • The literacy leader demonstrates whole-group teaching, which might include the minilesson, read-aloud, shared reading, or writing experience.
    • Pairs of participants work with students, holding conferences and small-group sessions and offering feedback to one another.

    Debriefing the residency

    • Participants should gather and discuss the residency in terms of the focus that they chose.
    • The literacy leader should prepare for the third day of the residency where participants will take over other parts of the teaching, including whole-group instruction.

    Day 3: The paired participants teach “their class” and the literacy leader gives feedback

    Pre-residency meet-up

    • Participant pairs decide on the parts each is responsible for teaching and tie up any loose ends before moving into the residency.

    During the residency

    • Participants, in pairs, will teach a part of the class. To clarify, if there are four teachers that are part of the residency, split the class in half. Each pair of teachers will have their own “class” that they teach from beginning to end (minilesson, conference, shared reading, etc.).
    • The literacy leader jots down feedback to share with the pairs during the debriefing.

    2017_03_23-TT-scheduleDebriefing the residency

    • The literacy leader shares the feedback with participants by passing along what she noted.
    • Participants should prepare for the final day of the residency during which each will teach individually. The literacy leader makes a schedule like the example shown.

    Day 4: Each participant teaches a portion of the residency

    Pre-residency meet-up

    • The literacy leader should set the tone for celebration Here’s some wording I use: What a week it has been! So much learning time together feels decadent and sort of like “teaching camp.” As we plan our last day together, our bigger purpose is to share our teaching gifts with one another by each taking on a part of the instruction. Think of this as a time to try out some new learning and an opportunity for the rest of us to soak up your greatness. When we do, a little piece of your teaching talent will be carried within each of us every day.
    • 2017_03_23-TT-feedbackThe literacy leader should share the feedback method. Each participant will write a note to the others about what she or he admires about another participant’s teaching. Here’s an example of one participant’s feedback.

    During the residency

    • Participants teach while others observe and jot down feedback.

    Debriefing the residency

    • Participants share the notes with one another and take one final moment to share what they have learned throughout the week.
    • Participants write a note to the students to share their gratitude for the chance to learn in their classrooms.

    Teachers have described residencies as transformative. A residency holds incredible power for teacher-learners who are looking for the next step in professional learning, are eager to integrate all they know about literacy instruction, and are looking to grow a community of teachers who learn from one another.

    McGee_w80Patty McGee is a literacy consultant whose passion and vision is to create learning environments where teachers and students discover their true potential and power. She is the author of Feedback That Moves Writers Forward: How to Escape Correcting Mode to Transform Student Writing (Corwin 2017). Patty’s favorite moments are when groups of teachers are working collaboratively with students in the classroom.

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    Looking for a Fresh, New Design for PD? Try a Residency, Part 1

    By Patty McGee
     | Mar 16, 2017

    TeachingTip_x300We most often picture residency programs to happen within the medical field, but this learning design is gaining ground in the education world. I define a residency in the education world to be  professional learning that takes place across a number of consecutive days within one classroom with a small group of teachers. It goes beyond the one-shot demonstrations that are often part of embedded professional learning and also takes coaching to an elevated level of collaboration. Residencies answer the question that I most often hear: How do I fit this all in?  

    Why hold a residency?

    Literacy learning, as we know, is multifaceted and complex, and it requires a deep knowledge of many intricate instructional approaches. A residency allows for the practice of the many components of balanced literacy as responsive choices based on student readiness. Most professional learning experiences in literacy are very often about only one of the components, such as the reading workshop. We teach and experience the parts and pieces of reading workshops—mini-lessons, eyes-on-text time, conferences, small-group instruction, guided reading, and so on. We often explore, deeply over time, the what and the why of workshop instruction. In other words, we share strategies and units to focus on, and we learn the research that supports a workshop approach. But a reading workshop is a pliable, flexible, student-centered approach that has no specific road map. And so, the residency concept supports teachers in making instructional choices to consider the big, looming question of when—when do I pull a strategy group? When do I teach this particular strategy? When do I hold conferences?

    How do you plan for a residency?

    As you prepare for a residency, here is what you will need in place:

    1. A concentrated time of at least an hour, though preferably an entire literacy block if possible
    2. A group of teachers who understand the purpose of the residency and the intended outcomes and have had at least some background in balanced literacy
    3. Current unit plans with goals and other materials that are used for instruction
    4. Scheduled time to meet to plan and debrief before and after the classroom residency time
    5. One person who will act as the literacy leader of the residency—usually a literacy coach, consultant, or teacher leader

    How is a residency designed?

    Think of the residency in the same gradual release model that you use in classroom instruction. Design the days using this concept, handing over the responsibility for teaching more and more to the participants.

    Next week’s post will give you a day-by-day plan of how a residency can be designed based on the gradual release of responsibility model. Aside from it being high-impact professional learning, it is also so much fun!

    McGee_w80Patty McGee is a literacy consultant whose passion and vision is to create learning environments where teachers and students discover their true potential and power. She is the author of Feedback That Moves Writers Forward: How to Escape Correcting Mode to Transform Student Writing (Corwin 2017). Patty’s favorite moments are when groups of teachers are working collaboratively with students in the classroom.

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    Pinterest and Literacy Instruction

    by Bridget Stegman
     | Mar 09, 2017

    You've probably seen the meme "I wish I could earn professional development points for Pinterest." Pinterest, a photo-sharing website, has become a popular site for teachers to collect images, or "pins," that help them plan, organize, and explore a variety of topics of interest from classroom decor to reading strategies.

    YoungWomanTablet_300wAs a reading specialist and instructional coach at an elementary school, I use research-based strategies when planning lessons with teachers. However, many times, teachers will share pins they have found on Pinterest. As an instructional coach, one challenge I have encountered is how to balance research-based instruction with attractive and eye-catching pins. I understand the visual benefits of Pinterest, but I also feel the urgency, especially when working with struggling readers, that reading instruction must meet the student's needs.

    Over the past four years, I've spent hundreds of hours on Pinterest looking at pins and creating literacy boards, and I have learned that not all pins are equal when searching for effective literacy ideas to support instruction. When working with teachers, you can determine the effectiveness of a pin by asking the following questions:

    • What is my learning target?
    • How does this pin support the standard or learning target being taught?
    • How does this pin help to differentiate instruction?

    Not all pins are created equal. I look for pictures of real classrooms with ideas and research-based strategies being implemented. Because many pins are linked to classroom blogs, there are numerous pictures of resources in action. One of the teachers I work with explained to me that "Pinterest is a good way to share ideas that others may not have known about." Topic areas that yield numerous high-quality pins include the following:

    • Anchor charts
    • Reading comprehension strategies
    • Mentor texts

    Pinterest provides helpful visuals for teachers when they are creating anchor charts. Printing the pin and using it when creating anchor charts with students is very easy. Even if you are not artistic, you can find many examples of anchor charts that use graphics or brightly colored text to help students anchor their thinking.

    Searching for research-based reading comprehension strategies that I'm already using in the classroom has yielded high-quality pins. For example, I use Jan Richardson's The Next Step in Guided Reading to organize lessons, and Pinterest features numerous pins with lesson plan layouts and prompts from this book. In addition, I've been able to find and download visual prompts for her method of teaching sight words.

    Pinterest offers many resources when I'm trying to find children's literature that is connected to standards. From mentor texts in writing to mentor texts based on comprehension strategies, there is an abundance of ideas focused around children's literature. Standards that use mentor texts that have high-quality pins include the following:

    • Making predictions
    • Summarizing
    • Determining cause and effect
    • Theme

    In addition, Pinterest has helped me find children's books for teaching phonemic awareness and phonics skills.

    Pinterest is a popular forum for teachers to learn about new ideas and strategies for their classrooms. Remember, however, that although Pinterest can help enhance and support both standards being taught and research-based strategies, it does not replace good teaching.

    Bridget Stegman_80wBridget Stegman is an instructional coach for the Topeka Public Schools in Kansas. Her teaching experience includes K–5 special education and literacy intervention.


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    A Less-Is-More Approach to Assessing Readers

    By Gravity Goldberg
     | Mar 02, 2017

    2017-03-02_TTx300We all know the scenarios of formal assessments stacked up on our desks, of faculty meetings that focus on spreadsheets and statistics, and of flipping through pages of reports to figure out what each one of our students need next. What if we could take a less-is-more approach to assessing and figuring out what to teach our students each day when it comes to deep thinking and reading?

    In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Little, Brown), Malcolm Gladwell describes the concept of thin-slicing: “Thin-slicing refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on a very narrow slice of experience.” Thin-slicing entails getting a small amount of information and being able to use it to make a sound judgment and decision. It involves not overthinking and using our conscious effort to analyze information but also using our gut instincts and our intuition about something in those first few seconds of being presented with information.

    Some examples of thin-slicing according to Gladwell are art experts being able to know a forgery in the first few seconds of examination, tennis coaches being able to know whether the player will fault on a serve in the half a second before it is even struck, and a salesman reading someone’s emotions and future decisions on the basis of three seconds of observation. It is knowing something in just a few seconds—in a blink of an eye. We are all able to use thin-slicing as a decision-making tool once we have sufficient experience in that area. Gladwell explains that “when we leap to a decision or have a hunch, our unconscious is…sifting through the situation in front of us, throwing out all that is irrelevant while we zero in on what really matters.” Teachers do not have the time to focus on every data point and need to be able to quickly identify what matters most—to thin-slice.

    Think about the last time a student came back from the library and you had only five seconds to observe him, and somehow you “just knew” he had trouble and was disappointed he did not get the book he really wanted. We often “just know” something about our students on the basis of thin slices of information. In Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn (Routledge), renowned authors and researchers John Hattie and Gregory Yates explain, “As a professional teacher, you have the ability to look at a classroom situation and read it quickly, within microseconds.” They go on to explain how this ability allows teachers to rely on feedback cues from students to inform what strategy they teach next.

    There are many examples we likely have all experienced with thin-slicing as reading teachers. You graze a review on goodreads.com of a new young adult novel, and 24 hours later you hand the book to the student you had in mind, and 48 hours later, he comes to you, literally with tears in his eyes, it was that good. Or you are in the midst of a whole-class read-aloud and students seem quiet and their comments are way off. You know to change gears, so you say to them, “You know what? Let’s try something different,” and you start reading aloud another book, and the energy in the room comes alive. In each of these everyday teaching decisions you are thin-slicing.

    Rather than collecting more and more data, let’s all trust our teacher instincts that have been developed from countless hours of talking to students about their thinking and looking at their written responses. This does not mean we ignore test and formal assessment data, but it does mean we also make the most of every moment with our students by thin-slicing what they are doing. Thin-slicing helps us plan tomorrow’s teaching on the basis of today’s learning. This is the kind of less-is-more assessment that can have a dramatic impact on student learning.

    Gravity Goldberg headshot-2Gravity Goldberg is coauthor of the new book What Do I Teach Readers Tomorrow? (Corwin, 2017) with Renee Houser as well as the author of Mindsets and Moves: Strategies that Help Readers Take Charge (Corwin, 2016) and coauthor of Conferring with Readers (Heinemann, 2007). She leads a team of literacy consultants in the NY/NJ area and presents to teachers across the United States. At the heart of Gravity's teaching is the belief that everyone deserves to be admired and supported. She can be reached via e-mail and onTwitter.

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    When Multicultural Literature Is at a Crossroads With Its Readers

    By Margaret Carroll
     | Feb 01, 2017

    78753286_x300Elementary school curricula include reading texts that introduce students to a wide variety of cultures. It seems like such a great idea! However, these stories may compound the problems of struggling readers by throwing in words from other cultures without enough context, making comprehension even more difficult. For instance, a group of ­urban, African-American students were reading a multicultural story in which one sentence caused considerable stress for the third-grade readers: “Mother wrapped the cassava bread in banana leaves and packed guavas for lunch.” The struggling third graders could not decode wrapped, with its peculiarly silent w, and had no comprehension of the direct object of the unknown verb because they stumbled over cassava (the students sounded it out well, but did not recognize any meaning). When asked why the mother wrapped the bread in foil, the students responded that they didn’t know. The teacher told the students that the mother had not used foil, but something else. The students had gleaned so little meaning from that single sentence that they didn’t know the question the teacher had posed was nonsensical.

    The teacher read the sentence aloud to the students. She asked again about wrapping the bread: Why did the mother wrap the bread in banana leaves? One student finally stated with a mimed demonstration that it would be tough to wrap bread in such skinny things. Lavell was linking the sentence to the only related experience he had, the narrow strips of skin from peeling a banana. The teacher then asked why it was that the mother had not used foil or even a bread bag. The students again had no idea.

    Use pictures

    The teacher encouraged the students to look at the picture. The students couldn’t understand why because there was no lunch preparation going on. Another student eventually said to the teacher, “The kids don’t even have shoes!” The teacher enthusiastically told the students that this observation was on the right track and asked what else they could tell about the family. A student said the family lived in a shack. Another noticed the pots did not look like they had been made in a factory or sold in a store. The teacher wondered if the family would then have plastic bags and foil. The students agreed that they might not—but leaves? Why would the bread have to be wrapped, and why use leaves? A third student said the bread would dry out if it wasn’t wrapped and, shrugging, she observed that leaves were all over in the picture and the mother probably had to use what was available. The students were really excited about their deductions. Their excitement soon soured when they looked over at the other group of children working with the teacher aide and said, “The others have read the whole story already!”

    Challenges of time and comparison

    Teachers know how to help students build comprehension, but such achievement takes time—time to explore what is already known, examine pictures, make connections, and help students conquer the text. Teachers feel enormous pressure to move through grade-level material at a rate that ensures finishing the text and provides students with exposure to all of the concepts introduced in the texts. Annual tests designed to prove “adequate” progress reinforce this sense of pressure—the burden that children feel to keep pace with their peers is substantial. No one knew if the other group had read the story with comprehension or just plugged along until they got to the end; nonetheless, the students were upset that their group was taking too long on a single part of just one sentence.

    Inner city students know many things

    This anecdote does not suggest that the inner-city, African-American third graders described here know nothing; that is far from the truth. However, they did not have the contextual knowledge to make sense of the story, a problem any student could have when reading multicultural tales. Multicultural literature, so often praised, may actually cause more stumbling and may decrease reading efficacy. The author’s and publisher’s intent—to provide students with vicarious experiences of cultures and locations other than their own—is counteracted by the difficulty experienced by readers who already lack some of the skills needed to read at grade level.

    Take the time, reuse color pictures

    The solution is for teachers to take all the time necessary for true reading comprehension and confidence, showing students that what they know (bread dries out if unwrapped) is important even when a story seems irrelevant to their lived experiences. Teachers should also use pictures as often as possible. Color pictures matter, especially to kinesthetic learners. Sharing one color picture of unfamiliar items is worth the cost of ink. Teachers can glue the color pictures into file folders with labels that can be stored and located for reuse. The file folders also help the pictures stand up to being passed around and handled.

    Opening a multicultural world is possible for all learners.    

    margaret carroll headshotMargaret Carroll, Ed.D., is a professor of education at Saint Xavier University, teaching courses in special education and instructional methods.

     

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